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Agenda Item No. 8
Presenter: Ted Hollingsworth

 

Briefing

Grant programs of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and other potential sources for matching funds with Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program (TFRLCP) grants.

January 28, 2016

The 84th Texas legislature appropriated $2,000,000 to TPWD to support the Texas Farm and Ranch Land Conservation Program (TFRLCP), of which $1,887,665 is available in FY 2016 and an additional $112,335 is available in FY 2017. The staff of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) recommends that these funds be matched, to the extent feasible, with funds from other sources, in order to accomplish as much conservation as possible. One potential source for matching these funds is Farm Bill conservation easement programs administered by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Under several NRCS funding scenarios, TFRLCP funds could be matched 3:1 with NRCS funds. Staff of TPWD has been working with staff of NRCS to ensure that eligible projects might be considered for leveraged funding through both sources for 2016.

In order to be considered for funding through both sources, an eligible applicant must apply for funding through both programs concurrently. The application deadline for NRCS funding was January 15, 2016, which has presented some logistical challenges for potential applicants to the TFRLCP. The NRCS has invited potential applicants to submit applications indicating TFRLCP funding as match, with the caveat that tentative project awards may be made contingent on the commitment of funds for the project by the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Council (Council). Staff of NRCS has asked that the Council notify the NRCS of NRCS-submitted projects that have been selected for TFRLCP funding by early March, 2016, in order to accommodate the NRCS project selection and award process.

In order to meet this deadline, TPWD will need to open the TFRLCP application period immediately after the January Council meeting, and close the application period in mid-February. The application ranking committee will need to rank the applications and their conclusions and recommendations will need to be presented to the Council in early-March in order that Letters of Intent for selected projects can be forwarded to NRCS in time for consideration. Dates for application deadlines, committee ranking and Council action will be considered in Council Item #9.

Conservation partners and potential TFRLCP applicants are encouraged to seek other ways to leverage grant funds, including donations, bargain sales, private contributions, and other state and federal conservation grant programs.